I had a wonderful surprise last weekend. My novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, moved up to number one on Amazon! This is the first book in the Renegade Series, which tells the story of a family from north Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them.
The book held the number one spot in three categories over the weekend. What an accomplishment! Once again, I am an Amazon bestseller!
If you would like a free copy of the e-book, shoot me an email. I’m always looking for reviews!
I came across this review for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, that I wanted to share. A Beckoning Hellfire is the second book in the Renegade Series, and tells the story of a family from north Alabama and how the war impacts them. A Beckoning Hellfire centers around the son, David Summers, as he enlists with J.E.B. Stuart’s Confederate cavalry. Thank you for the review, Scarlett Jensen!
A Beckoning Hellfire follows the same family as in her previous book, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. With her novels, you’re doing more than just reading; you experience. It is recommended to fiction lovers even if historical is not your favorite. You are transported into the human side of war.
The validity of war, as well as Hiram’s death in the Battle of Fredericksburg, motivates David to convince his best friend, Jake, to go with him and enlist in the Confederate army, more to avenge his father than for idealism.
Expressing horror, suffering and cruelty of war the author recounts the human side of this war. Historical facts that mix with a look into how the war is seen from the eyes of a young soldier, tell the story of a family from north Alabama. But what a cruel thing is war. To separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world…My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men. —Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, December 25, 1862.
Things taken for granted before: Impending darkness engulfed David’s heart. Feeling the need for solitude, “I’ve heard tales as many as half a dozen from this county alone, died fighting with Hiram.”
Resentment and hostility simmered throughout the county. The Northern invaders had taken David’s father, and all he could think about was his own vendetta.
“Fightin’ for the grand ole Southland. And of you. He talked about you all the time, David. How much of a man you’d become, and how you hoped it would last long enough to see his intentions through. I see it, you’re the next of your pa’s kin to pay for his mistake.”
What with the Yankees breathin’ down our necks? David plans to join the army. “What about the crops? Jake will git in with the cavalry. Ma, how will we kill any Yankees ? God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party – and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to affect His purpose. Ma’s voice softened his heart and calmed him, like an angelic phenomenon.
David wanted a chance to avenge Pa’s death. He had already committed a murder. Captured before he reached Virginia, runnin’ from, he thought to himself. He would run away for now, fight for his father’s honor, and deal with this whole awakening in the people of the highest emotions and qualities of the human soul.
We have a tale demonstrating the strife cultivating feelings of patriotism, virtue, and courage. Instances of self-sacrifice and of generous soldiers of the Confederate States of America, to give an oath of allegiance.
For David, this could be the last time he’d ever see Alabama again. He already felt homesick. David was on the run. Was Jake an accomplice to a murder by David?
The war: Yankees had exhilaration in their hearts that bubbled out into hilarity. Some damn Yankee tyrants, men in combat screamed, slashed, and cursed. Bullets whizzed, and thousands of hooves thundered. This story reminds you of the glorious land of Dixie, and proves that they were of noble race and lineage In the history of the country.
Here are a few more five-star reviews that my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, recently received. This book is the first one in the Renegade Series, which tells the story of a family from north Alabama, and how the Civil War impacts them. Thank you so much, A. Cannady, Amy K. and Hamza, for your five-star reviews!
A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War is a fantastic story around a family’s struggle during the civil war. The storyline is great and the scenes were set up very vividly with great character representation. I enjoy good history books and this one was definitely right up there with the best of them. I highly recommend this book to all history buffs and war buffs.
“A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War,” by J.D.R. Hawkins is the first book in the Renegade series. This book is highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of historical fiction. This book really takes you back in time and will truly leave you highly engaged and wanting more with every turn of the page.
“A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series Book 1)” is a historical tale that narrates the civil war in America. From being enlisted in Army to numerous sacrifices for the sake of the family, the novel offers a fascinating action packed storyline. The story is portrayed from the perspective of a mother, a solider and the youth of the present time. The book makes you understand the Civil War goes beyond Slavery. The writer has provided a strong revision of history through enlightening storytelling. Overall it is an emotional and delicate recap of America’s Civil War.
Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards; the initial volume is this exceptional book – A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE. This series, now four books in number, relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. At this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. For a more complete picture of that historical event, Hawkins has created a fictional revisit to that mid 1800s time and her writing is inviting, from the first lines: “Oh, look! Here he comes!” Jenny exclaimed. The crowd exploded with cheers. David looked over to where she was pointing, his hazel eyes squinting in the bright sunshine. An elegant black lacquered carriage drawn by six white horses pulled up to the steps of the regal Greek revival-style state building. Eight musicians burst into “Dixie’s Land.” A slender, steely middle-aged gentleman stepped out of the carriage and was escorted by military personnel to a waiting platform, where he took his seat. “He looks sickly to me,” remarked David’s father, Hiram…’ Approaching her novel from the family standpoint allows everyone entry to better understand the Confederate vantage.
With that sense of presence, the plot progresses as follows: ‘In the spring of 1861, a country once united is fractured by war. Half of America fights for the Confederate cause; the other, for unification. Rebel forces have already seized Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, a new Confederate president has been elected, and the Constitution has been revised. In north Alabama, a farmer and father of three decides to enlist. For Hiram Summers, it is the end of everything he has ever known. After Hiram travels to Virginia with the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment, he is quickly thrust into combat. His son, David, who must stay behind, searches for adventure at home by traipsing to Huntsville with his best friend, Jake Kimball, to scrutinize invading Yankees. Meanwhile, Caroline – Hiram’s wife and David’s mother – struggles to keep up with the farm as her world revolves around the letters she receives from her husband, whom she misses dearly. As Hiram and his son discover the true meaning of war, they soon realize that their choices have torn their family apart. The naïveté of a young country is tested, a father sacrifices everything to defend his home, and a young man longs for adventure – regardless of the perilous cost.’
This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars.
America will always remember the Civil War as one of the most tragic events in their history. This story is set in that time and it is quite engrossing. The details and narrative are captivating and you can see how the author easily conveys a bevy of feelings in its characters.
But I think that, more importantly, there is a strong powerful message embedded within the words, sentences, and paragraphs. This is like a poetic salute to the delusion that war is honorable and whatnot. I have never seen a man die but I am guessing that there is nothing beautiful about it. This book exposes this through the experiences of David Summers.
I received this review from the US Review of Books for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Mihir Shah, for your flattering review!
A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series)
by J.D.R. Hawkins
Westwood Books Publishing
Book review by Mihir Shah
“The voices of thousands of wounded soldiers rose up from the ground in an eerie, harmonious chorus.”
In typical Hawkins fashion, the spirit of the battle, its highest highs and lowest lows, has been impeccably captured from the perspective of ordinary citizens turned soldiers. In this first volume of the Renegade Series, the author delivers an incredibly realistic experience for the audience. Readers not only get to read about the Civil War in an engaging manner, but they also get to feel the era come to life with the characters, their mannerisms, dialogue, and the tensions that tug at them as they are forced into difficult choices.
While history has already chronicled the Civil War, novels like this one truly embody the essence of the catalyst that led to bloodshed and the ensuing emotional turmoil. The novel opens up with the President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, declaring in no uncertain terms through a grand speech that war is inevitable. Just as jarring in the same opening scene, where morale is at an all-time high and dreams of glory are transcending reality, is the seemingly casual yet well-placed reference to “faithful slaves,” who were tending to the sprained ankle of a slave owner’s wife. From the onset, this historical novel sets the stage for what many future historians will likely perceive not as a battle between the Union and Confederacy but a fight for the nation’s identity, its soul.
Many storylines run concurrently, with the prequel shedding light on a young David Summers before he has become hardened by battle and softened by love. Characters like Hiram are beyond endearing, and one really is forced to wonder how many needless lives, how many broken homes, and how many unfinished stories stain the battlegrounds of the Civil War. While names like General Lee and Stonewall Jackson will certainly add an aura of familiarity for audiences, the ordinary lives of citizens like Hiram and Bud are the ones readers will root for because they are true reflections of unbiased humanity.
Whether in the budding relationship between David and his stallion, Renegade, or the innocence and purity of David learning to play the guitar, Hawkins has an uncanny knack for character development as she builds a backstory with the main characters that audiences of the other Renegade books will devour. Though David has yet to join the battlefield at this point, he represents the thousands of young men whose parents went to battle, leaving their sons to accelerate their coming-of-age stories and thrusting them into the role of protector and provider for their families.
Above all else, the narrative is based upon the prerequisite of placing each character out of his comfort zone. The result is seeing the indomitable human spirit rise in the face of the grimmest adversities. Although equipped with the same essential facts as one would find in a history book, Hawkins’s narrative stands out in its ability to bring these moments to life in a way that is universally relatable and evergreen. Free-flowing with intriguing character development against the backdrop of a bloody yet pivotal time in American history, this narrative is a compelling must-read.
I’m so honored to have received another five-star review for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. This is the second book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Pacific Book Reviews and Arthur Thares, for your amazing review!
Title: A Beckoning Hellfire
Author: J.D.R. Hawkins
Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewed by: Arthur Thares
Pacific Book Review
To write good historical fiction book, you must be skilled at both research and imaginative storytelling, which is a tall order. However, J.D.R. Hawkins seems
to do both with ease as she paints a realistic picture of the Civil War era using characters that were grown in her imagination. A Beckoning Hellfire is part of something special in the Renegade series, but it deserves individual accolades.
The story begins unassumingly with the main character, David, on his family farm in Alabama. A visitor arrives to deliver devastating news that will forever change the course of David’s life. Though he had already decided to join the Confederate army, a tragic accident speeds up his timeline, and he leaves his home with not much more than his horse and best friend Jake in tow. David is searching for retribution, but what he finds is the horrors and sadness of war. The trials and tribulations may prove to be too much for the young Southerner who is only trying to do what he thinks is the right thing.
Some people are born with the gift of storytelling, which is true of J.D.R. Hawkins, but she has taken it to another level by creating stories with the history she is passionate about. Her writing style shows she has a deep and intimate knowledge of the Civil War, especially the Confederate side. The small details in her writing lend a genuine authenticity to the story you don’t always find in fiction. One of the most admirable attributes of Hawkins’ writing is that she is not afraid to make her characters human; they have their faults and aren’t invincible.
A Beckoning Hellfire is a little difficult to read, not because of the book’s quality, but because you know this fictional telling is not far off from the reality of the Civil War. Although the content can sometimes be questionable, this book would be an excellent story to introduce to older middle schoolers and above. It is a reminder of one of the worst times in our nation and the sacrifices that were made, but being a work of fiction takes the edge off of a harsh reality. Once you have read this book, there is no doubt you will want to read the other books in Hawkins’ Renegade series.
I received this flattering review from Hollywood Book Reviews for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. It is the second book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Mr. Jack Chambers, for your awesome review!
Title: A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series) Author: J.D.R. Hawkins Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing ISBN: 978-1648030772 Pages: 249 Genre: Military Historical Fiction Reviewed by: Jack Chambers
Hollywood Book Reviews The realities of war are often far more brutal and harsher than the stories and imagery the governments of a nation will make it out to be. The search for glory and heroism will often outshine everything else, but those who find themselves in the midst of war will find more cruelty, fear, and bloodshed than any sense of glory they were promised. To find a means of preparing for war is far less likely the more one focuses on the morality of our world. As Sophocles once said, “War never takes a wicked man by chance, the good man always.”
In author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War, the second book in The Renegade Series, the author takes readers into the dark realities of war and vengeance through the eyes of David Summers. The story finds David thrust from his farm in Northern Alabama and into the heart of the American Civil War on the battlefields in Virginia and Pennsylvania. The news of his father’s death in the Battle of Fredericksburg rocks David to his core, and he goes in search of vengeance against the people he blames for his passing. Yet as time goes on and the war looms large over him, he begins to lose the bloodlust that drove him forward as the battles wear on him physically and mentally, leading to a haunted look at the human cost of the American Civil War.
As a reader who has had the pleasure of reading several books in this historical fiction series, I was immediately drawn into the author’s familiar yet always engaging focus on historical accuracy and cinematic writing style. The emotional and psychological weight of the Civil War has never felt more profound, as the author does an excellent job of showcasing both sides of the war and the many different realities of those fighting on the frontlines of battle. The atmosphere was definitely heavy, and the haunting tone the author’s writing struck was a great way of highlighting the plight of the common man who fought in this war, rather than focusing on the historical figures or wealthy landowners who fueled the war behind the scenes.
This is the perfect book for those who enjoy historical fiction reads, especially those that enjoy historical fiction that focuses on American History, in particular the American Civil War. The balance the author found between the historical accuracy and the rich character development was great to see, as David’s evolution throughout the narrative was the heart and soul of this narrative. The reader gets a true sense of the horrors and weariness that overcame the average soldier during the war, and made for a wellrounded reading experience.
Thought-provoking, adrenaline-fueled, and historically entertaining, author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War is a must-read historical fiction novel and a great entry into the author’s The Renegade Series. The haunting imagery and detailed accuracy of the battles and death that many soldiers experienced during that time puts a real human element into this fictional story, and will leave fans eager for more of the author’s incredible work.
I am frequently asked how I came up with the title for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie (the first book in the Renegade Series). I derived it from this wonderful quote, which a Confederate soldier wrote in his journal.
“For it was the first Field of Glory I had seen in my May of life, and the first time that Glory sickened me with its repulsive aspect, and made me suspect it was all a glittering lie.” – Henry Morton Stanley, C.S.A.
It is difficult to imagine what went through the young soldiers’ minds when they finally “saw the elephant” – horrifying, no doubt, and exhilarating at the same time. But soldiers weren’t the only ones who experienced such terror. This excerpt describes how their loved ones must have felt. Some of them never received word of what had happened to their brave soldiers. War always involves tragedy, but I think not knowing would be the worst part.
Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down into Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. She did her best to shelter her brood, but realized it was just a matter of time before they learned of the event.
The following week, she found out that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, and especially, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home. Going alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure, her ankle boots clunking up the wooden steps and across the porch’s floorboards as she walked. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. As she entered, she saw several others gathered around a notice that had been tacked to the wall. Ben Johnson nodded. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.
Slowly, feeling as though she was floating, she passed by the dry goods, glass cases displaying pottery, clothing and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters, approaching the others. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away and stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one who was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek as she walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.
Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.
The revelation had started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”
Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”
“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see …”
“Yes ma’am, far as I can tell.”
“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good day, Mr. Johnson.”
She turned to leave, and as she opened the paned-glass door, Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”
“I surely will,” she replied. Walking out to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, and slapped the reins. She drove out of view from the mercantile, and pulled the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until the ache in her heart finally subsided. She couldn’t show her weakness to her children: for them she had to be strong. After wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, she drove on toward home.